Hard hit Californian schools to get hit again

November 17, 2011 7:25:03 PM PST
The news just keeps getting worse for California schools. The Legislative Analyst's Office says schools are facing even more cuts because the state's revenue came up billions of dollars short. ABC7 looks at an East Palo Alto school that's already suffering, before it has to take yet another budget hit.

California public schools have been hit hard by the economy. On Thursday we saw what five years of budget cuts have done to Cesar Chavez Academy in East Palo Alto.

First, there are seven more kids in every classroom. The science lab is closed because the lab instructor was laid off. The computer lab sits empty -- there is no one to maintain them. There is no credentialed librarian. The school relies on volunteers.

"So we're missing a lot of our auxiliary staff, so anyone who is not in the classroom full-time has been cut pretty much," said school principal Amika Guillaume.

Here's what else has been cut: counselors, custodians and everyone who works at the school or for the school district has had to take five furlough days. With more budget cuts looming, some school districts are considering implementing even more furlough days.

"If these cuts go forward, many districts in California could have the shortest school year in the nation of 168 days," said Arun Ramanathan with Education Trust West, an education advocacy group.

Japan has 243 instructional days.

The legislative analyst says the state's revenue is expected to came up short by $3.7 billion. This will trigger $2 billion in cuts, $1.5 in public education alone by January.

"The building is on fire, but we as educators refuse to let the building burn so we keep coming up with innovative ways to tackle the problems," said teacher Clent Ingram.

"All of these different positions, say there were five people doing this job, now there is only one person now. These people are tired and they are working so hard and I'm nervous what would that look like if I had even less," said Guillaume.

Many educators are concerned with the long term effects on California's economy.

"When you think of education and you think of both K-12 and higher education taking the brunt of these cuts, this is the future of California's economy," said Ramanathan.

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